One of the issues IT faces while helping departments order technology is an understanding gap involving the cost and why we, as an institution, select and purchase specific technology. Questions arise such as “Why am I required to purchase the standardized equipment selected by IT when I can purchase similar equipment more cheaply from another store?” or “Why can I not purchase this machine with [specific] features?”
Ads for retailers such as Best Buy, Tiger Direct, etc. advertise consumer level electronics with corresponding components and support. When Michigan Tech IT specifies equipment for the university, we are choosing hardware that is suited for business use, which generally results in higher prices. We also take the following into consideration:
When IT chooses laptops and desktops for the university, it looks for products that have a good longevity and interoperable parts, e.g., a docking station or power cord ordered with one laptop that is compatible with an entire series of products. ”Families” of machines often share common drivers and software. This allows IT to prepare machines and install software without having to custom-build a lot of equipment. While special scenarios always exist, this applies to the bulk of campus computing.
We choose professional/enterprise level technology which includes a minimum three-year warranty and a manufacturer’s support agreement for quick resolution and parts delivery. This allows IT to return repairs to users in the shortest time possible.
Michigan Tech’s practice is to use, reuse and repurpose our technology well past its warranty period whenever possible. We strive to responsibly recycle equipment until every possible use has been utilized from the machine. Choosing machines which have that potential level of lifespan is another reason why we recommend and buy specific equipment.
IT’s aim is to recommend technology that is fast, well supported, has good longevity, and in the end, when you figure in the support cost and lifespan of the equipment, has an excellent total cost of ownership.